Anirban Bhattacharya, Vice President of the Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Schools, shares his views on the opportunities and challenges of the Indian education system with FE Education Online.
What is the best thing about today’s education system?
Educational dynamics have changed recently. There is a shift from solely emphasizing academic excellence to holistic learner development through a balanced mix of knowledge, skills and values. Educators today also emphasize curriculum coherence when subject content is age appropriate and incorporates sociocultural awareness. Institutions introduce internationalization programs to create a meaningful global perspective among students. Integrating technology into the curriculum has also become the norm in many private schools and colleges. The National Education Policy 2020 has also paved the way for a transformation of the Indian education system and it is good to see a step being taken towards more engaging, blended and inclusive learning.
What would you like to change in the education system today?
While the Indian education system has many good things, it also has a lot of room for improvement. I think it is necessary to think about the “all or nothing” evaluation system that is usually used in schools or colleges. The high-stakes exams put students in a frantic race to earn more grades or grades. Students tend to memorize rather than develop a deep understanding of concepts. What we need is an assessment system that encourages the development of critical thinking skills in students. Education must be about academic excellence, skill development, athletic excellence, artistic creativity and problem-solving skills. At the same time, the focus must be on soft skills such as resilience, empathy and the ability to work in a team. We need to broaden our educational horizons so that grades are not an obstacle to learning.
3. What role has digitization played in the development of the education system?
Digitization plays a central role in education. Unlike in the past, today’s students are technology natives. It is not wrong if we call her Abhimanyu, who learned all about the “Chakravyuh” in the womb. Children today are born with a natural aptitude for technology. At a young age, they absorb technology with exceptional ease. They are multitaskers who can literally juggle multiple gadgets. Without a doubt, technology has enhanced learning and encouraged collaboration and communication between students and teachers. It was a great place to get further education during the lockdowns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Online learning has deeply permeated global education systems over the last 2-3 years and now we are moving towards blended and self-paced learning formats to complement classroom learning. In addition, technology has made it easier to access vast amounts of information with just one click. It has also brought about profound changes in pedagogy. Today, institutions are adopting student-centered flipped classroom learning models. Information and communication technology (ICT), artificial intelligence and virtual reality technologies are used to make learning immersive and experiential.
4. What was the disadvantage of digitization in education?
While technology is a great enabler, it also has its downsides. First of all, there is always a risk of digital addiction. Over-reliance on technology can hinder the cognitive development of students and teachers. Technologies like Chat GPT can be disruptive. There are also privacy and cybersecurity issues. Second, online education is inaccessible to the destitute due to inadequate digital infrastructure in most third world countries. This creates a digital learning gap and inequality in education. Thirdly, e-learning has the disadvantage that it does not promote the socio-emotional development of the students. So we have to have the right perspective for the use of digital technologies in education. We need to ensure that technology is a great tool for learning and not a substitute for classroom learning.
5. What career tips would you like to give students?
First of all, it is important to understand the importance of lifelong learning in today’s context. Industry 4.0 is constantly evolving and new jobs are being created that have never existed before. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, around 85 million jobs could be displaced by 2025 if the division of labor between humans and machines shifts. Around 97 million new roles could emerge that are better adapted to the new division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms. Today’s educators and learners should understand this changing paradigm. Students need 21st century communication skills, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity. They must foster complex problem-solving skills, digital literacy, leadership skills, interpersonal skills and global citizenship skills. At the same time, it is important to be sensitive to the global socio-cultural and environmental issues by adhering to the Sustainable Development Goals. To build a long-term career, students need more than just expertise in a specialty. They need extensive knowledge, skills and competencies to be successful leaders and high performers.